Hunters take aim at Idaho’s wolves
Today Idaho hunters are able to shoot and kill previously endangered wolves for first time
WASHINGTON, DC. – Today Idaho’s previously endangered wolves are in the crosshairs of hunters taking part in the first-ever hunt of reintroduced gray wolves as a game species in the contiguous United States.
Defenders of Wildlife and 12 other conservation groups are still awaiting a decision by the U.S. District Court in Montana on the group’s motion for a preliminary injunction. If granted, federal protection would be restored to the regional wolf population until the court reaches a final decision in the plaintiffs’ pending legal challenge to the delisting.
The 220 wolves slated to be killed in this year’s wolf hunt in Idaho are over and above the 150 or more wolves already killed or meeting death each year in the state by other means including lethal control, natural deaths and the 35 wolves allowed to be killed by the Nez Perce tribe. All these actions combined threaten the recovery of the still tenuous regional wolf population in the Northern Rockies.
The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife:
“The heavy-handed wolf hunt beginning today in Idaho, together with the hunt planned to begin September 15th in Montana, puts the recovery of the Northern Rockies population of wolves at risk and demonstrates precisely the kind of irresponsible state management that should have precluded taking the wolf off the endangered species list at this point in time.
“We hope that the court will stop this ill-timed and politically motivated hunt before it is too late for hundreds of Idaho’s wolves.”
The following is a statement by Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife:
“Today’s hunt undermines decades of tremendous support, time and investment from the American public, federal, tribal and state wildlife agencies, and threatens one of the most successful wildlife restorations in history.
“While we have consistently encouraged all of the states in the region and the federal government to adopt scientifically sound wildlife conservation and management policies that are in the best interests of wolves and people, Idaho’s plan does not adhere to that standard and places the recovery of the Northern Rockies gray wolf in serious jeopardy. This level of mismanagement and population reduction would never be accepted for elk or deer and should not be attempted for any native wildlife, including wolves.
“Idaho hosts the core of the region’s wolf population, with approximately 1,000 wolves. By wiping out 220 wolves, the state is taking the first step toward crippling the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. This puts the wolves at risk for genetic inbreeding and disease outbreaks – and reduces the important ecological niche that wolves fill on the land.
“Idaho’s wildlife agency has stated that its intent is to reduce the population to only 518 wolves, while the Idaho state legislature’s official policy is that all wolves be removed ‘by whatever means necessary.’
“No other endangered species has ever been delisted at such a low population level and then immediately hunted to even lower unsustainable levels. This clearly is not responsible wolf management.”